The Journalistic Tradition
Fall 1993, New York University
This is a course about the words, sentences, paragraphs and stories of journalism. It aims to expand students' understandings of these complex entities and to broaden the range of possibilities available to students as they write.
Joseph ADDISON and Richard STEELE
Selections from The Spectator
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to their Parents and Country
The Autobiography (Part I only)
"On Duty with Inspector Field"
"Down with the Tide"
Three letters from Italy for the Tribune
"A Short Essay on Critics"
Selections from the Courier and Call
"Mark Twain on his Days as a Call Reporter"
Memoranda During the War
From How the Other Half Lives: "The Downtown Back Alleys," "The Italian in New York," "The Bend," "Jewtown," "The Sweaters of Jewtown"
From The Shame of the Cities: "Introduction; and some Conclusions," "Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented"
From The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, "I Make a Crime Wave"
"The Man in the White Hat"
"Marines Signaling Under Fire at Guantanamo"
Richard Harding DAVIS
"The Death of Rodriguez"
"With the Greek Soldiers"
From Newspaper Days: "Preface," "Allegro Con Brio"
From Child of the Century: "The Death of Henry Spencer," "Well, I Got Him, I Got Him Anyway"
"The Dumbbell Murder"
"Force and Ideas"
"Life is Cheap"
"Taking a Chance"
"Bull Fighting a Tragedy"
"Trout Fishing in Europe"
"A. D. in Africa"
"A New Kind of War"
"Shooting an Elephant"
"Why I Write"
Edward R. MURROW
From This is London: selections
"Harvest of Shame" (Videotape available for screening at Avery Fischer Media Center in Bobst Library)
Selected World War II dispatches
"Goodbye to Germany"
"A Good Appetite"
From The Sweet Science: "Introduction," "Boxing with the Naked Eye"
"Horse Feathers Swathed in Mink"
From The Southern Gates of Arabia: "The Arabian Coast," "The Way to Jol"
"Nobody Knows My Name"
"The Yellow Bus"
"'Joe,' Said Marilyn Monroe, Just Back from Korea, 'You Never Heard Such Cheering...'"
"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold"
"The Pump House Gang"
"The New Journalism"
From Crazy Salad, "Deep Throat," "Baking Off"
"The Arithmatic of Need"
"We Do Abortions Here"
From Armies of the Night: "A Confrontation by the River"
"The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved"*
From Dispatches: "the War Covered Me"
From Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: "Overalls"
"Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream"
Oranges, Chapters One and Two
These four books are available in the bookstore:
Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography and Other Writings
Walt Whitman, Memoranda During the War
John Hersey, Hiroshima
John McPhee, Oranges
Copies of all other readings are available on the 6th floor of the journalism building, 10 Washington Place, and on reserve in the basement of Bobst Library.
** Reading. Students must read every word of the articles and selections on the attached list, with the exception of Milton's Areopagitica, Paine's Common Sense and Whitman's Memoranda During the War, which may be skimmed. Students should be prepared to comment upon and answer questions about all these works in class.
** Sentence selection. Each student will be required to select a particularly well-crafted sentence or two from each of the authors we read. Students should be prepared to read aloud and comment upon their selections in class.
** Style exercises. Each student must write three short, one- or two-paragraph nonfiction pieces, each in the style of a different one of the authors we will be considering. These six exercises must be divided equally among the three sections of the course (one for each section):
Section 1 -- Addison to Davis
Section 2 -- Menckin to Stark
Section 3 -- Hersey to McPhee
The subjects of these pieces can be something the student has witnessed or something the student has read about. Again, it must be something that actually happened -- true, fact. In mimicking these styles, close attention should be paid to matters of rhythm, pacing, word selection, sentence construction and imagery. The assignment in the first section of the class will be due at the beginning of the class after the author being imitated is discussed; the remaining two assignments are due at the beginning of the class when the author is discussed. The assignments will, in most cases, be read aloud in class.
** Textual Exegesis. We will do two of these. Short passages from Runyon and Stark will be assigned, and students will be responsible for writing a one-page paper analyzing the passage in detail.
** Research Presentation. Each student will have to do two of these biographical presentations on the life of one of these authors. They should be based on library research and must be ready to be presented, in concise form, at appropriate points during the class discussion of that author. When doing this research, students should pay special attention to their subject's career as a journalist and to the background of the specific pieces we will be reading. These will be oral presentations. Notes may be collected but no written paper is required. A sign-up sheet for research presentations for the first half of the semester will be passed around during the first class.
** Paper. Each student must complete a 2,000 word paper that follows a theme through the work of at least three of these authors. Some examples of possible themes: coverage of war, approaches to writing about people, the author as a character, use of imagery, discussions of death, encounters with other cultures, the use of investigative techniques, explorations of poverty. The paper should be based on the student's own original analysis of these readings, stimulated by class discussions; however, secondary sources may be consulted. This lengthy piece of writing should provide an opportunity to demonstrate some of what students have learned about nonfiction writing in this and other classes. It does not have to follow a formal academic style. All information or ideas that are not your own must, however, be footnoted. The paper is due at the beginning of class on December 16.
NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED!
Will be based about one third on class participation (including research presentations), one third on the style and exegesis exercises and one third on the final paper. There will be no exams.
OFFICE: 10 Washington Place, 6th floor, 212-998-7997
OFFICE HOURS: Monday, 2 - 5, and by appointment,
plus most evenings before and after this class.
HOME PHONE: 201-768-1353 (10 a.m.- 6 p.m. only, please)